LTU fights invasive species with controlled burn on campus
Monday, November 12th, 2012
Lawrence Technological University held a prescribed ecological burn on Nov. 9 to help restore native plants and habitat while discouraging invasive species along tributaries of the Rouge River on campus.
The prescribed ecological burn was conducted by David Borneman LLC of Ann Arbor with the cooperation of the Southfield Fire Department, which had issued a permit.
According to Associate Professor Donald Carpenter, historically fire has been a regular and frequent component of southern Michigan ecosystems such as prairies, dry oak-hickory woodlands, and certain wetlands. Burn off stimulates many native species to grow more vigorously and discourages many non-native species that come from areas where fire is not prevalent.
Carpenter is a civil engineering professor who has done extensive research on limiting stormwater runoff as a way to improve water quality in the Great Lakes basin. Native plants are effective at filtering pollutants from stormwater runoff.
In the past five years Carpenter has taken the lead in reintroducing native plant species to natural areas on campus. “This controlled burn is the next logical step to improve native habitat and promote native vegetation on campus,” he said.
The controlled burns targeted two areas where Carpenter has planted native species that will provide better control and filtering of runoff from tributaries of the Rouge River on campus. One section was near the Architecture Building, and the larger section was behind South Housing.
Another target of the controlled burn was a large cluster of phragmites behind the Architecture Building. Phragmites is an invasive species of tall grass that grows in wet areas and can be seen along many expressways. This species forces out all other forms of vegetation, thereby upsetting the balance of the local ecosystem.